What Is A Permissible Imperfection In A Child?

Illustration for article titled What Is A Permissible Imperfection In A Child?

Cindy McCain is in Vietnam today on behalf of the group Operation Smile, which repairs the cleft lips and palates of children whose parents couldn't otherwise afford the (relatively simple) surgery. Her involvement with the charity helps highlight its work and brings in donations and gives me rather a soft-spot for her because I was born with a cleft palate myself and I recognize how lucky I am to have been born here as opposed to a country in which its repair wouldn't be a given. One thing that I'm also keenly aware of about cleft lips and palates is that while they are occasionally genetic, they're more often developmental, which is all a roundabout way of bringing up the recent scientific findings that sexual orientation might also be a developmental (as opposed to a genetic) trait and the fact that there are already people looking at how to prevent it from developing.


Two years ago, researchers in Oregon attempted to create homosexual sheep by interfering with the hormones to which they were exposed in utero, which scientists are beginning to believe might be the development factor underpinning human sexuality. The Reverend Joseph Fessio said: "Same-sex activity is considered disordered. If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science." The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler suggested that one way to reconcile this information would be to treat homosexuality like an actual birth defect and said, "We should have no more problem with that than treating any medical problem."

Of course, researching and "treating" sexual orientation in utero would take years and untold millions of dollars to develop, but it's great to know that the Catholics and the Baptists are happy to spend the money and/or allow women and their unborn children to risk harm (because there's a risk of harm in every medical procedure) if it allows the mother and father of said unborn child the assurance that they little boy will never fall in love with another man or their little girl will never have the urge to marry another woman. Of course, the first stage in the process would likely be a test to see if the child was eventually going to be gay which would allow women to choose to abort gay fetuses (as they can now choose to abort severely disabled children or girls, if they so desire), so heading down this path might actually lead to more abortions but I'm sure the committed Christians who would be concerned for their gender of their child's eventual life partner totally wouldn't do that.

To point out, there's very little (if any) research done into how to prevent the development of cleft lips and palates, which result in an actual physical deformity that can be severe and, as Operation Smile highlights, repairing the defect is by no means a given in many places in the world. But, hey, no reason to spend money to research preventing a defect that you can just get a little surgery to fix. A cleft palate need only be temporary, but gay is for life.

Cindy McCain Does Charity in Vietnam [Time]

The Gay Culture War Is About To Turn Chemical [Slate]

Southern Baptist Seminary Leader Takes Heat for 'Is Your Baby Gay?' Article [Fox News]

Related: Operation Smile



Don't cleft palates also pose an actual health risk to the child as well, as in they lead to a greater degree of infection and other illnesses? So it's not just about looking "normal" it's about preventing other health concerns that they are prone to as well.

As for the other, I don't think it's that far of a leap, actually. Some people have been talking about homosexuality as a birth defect for awhile. My personal take is that it's not a defect. It's just a slight difference from the "norm" if you're viewing things from a "majority" v. "minority" standpoint. Besides, how does the hormone theory account for all the people who have a more fluid sexuality and have partners of either the same or opposite sex? I think we get too hung up on the gender/sexuality binary. Sexual preference just isn't that easy to distill. And to my mind, the "problems" involved in being interested in the same sex mostly came from social stigma, bigotry, and fear of what's different. It's imposed on it, not stemming from it, unlike say being born without limbs or downs.

I think it's always important to look ahead at what people are talking about in some of these things because frankly, it -could- happen. Maybe it's just my inner sci-fi geek, but I tend to think human beings are capable of a lot worse.